Watchlist 2024: Action is needed on these pressing safety concerns

The Watchlist draws attention of regulators, operators, the Government and the people involved in transport every day to transport-related concerns of high social, economic or environmental risk; and systemic transport safety risks.

The new Watchlist 2024 was updated and published on 21 March 2024. 

You can see similar lists from international peer organisations under Related links.


Safety for workers in the rail corridor

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission has inquired into accidents where people working in the rail corridor have died, been seriously injured, or have had their lives put at risk. We have identified several safety issues in these inquiries: procedures that did not meet the national standards, procedures not being adhered to, miscommunication, and impairment from fatigue. The consequences of these safety issues can be severe.


The road-rail interface 

Transport Accident Investigation Commission inquiries have highlighted safety improvements that could have been, or should be, made for road vehicles at level crossings. We have found ambiguities in who is responsible for the safety at the interface of the roading and rail networks, a particular concern in metropolitan areas with growing patronage, and growing frequency of trains. Other inquiries have shown that changes to rules and standards for road vehicles such as permissible lengths and clearances are incompatible with the conditions at some level crossings such as sight lines and road camber. The potential remains for serious accidents to continue to occur as a result of these problems identified through our inquiries.


Recreational boat users: essential knowledge and skills 

Strategies to promote safety in New Zealand’s recreational boating sector focus on encouraging self-reliance and skipper responsibility through safety awareness and education. The Transport Accident Investigation Commission’s view is that the system is flawed because it relies on users knowing the rules, regulations and bylaws, but does not require them to demonstrate such knowledge before taking a craft on the water. This situation is anomalous with the aviation and road sectors. In 2009 we recommended that the Secretary for Transport address this issue. We repeated the recommendation in 2023.


Recreational boat users: impairment from substance use 

The detrimental effects of drugs and alcohol on cognitive abilities are well documented. International research suggests the likelihood and severity of accidents increase if people responsible for performing safety-critical tasks use drugs or alcohol. The Transport Accident Investigation Commission has investigated recreational boating accidents where the consumption of alcohol has been a contributing factor or a potential impediment to survival.


Technologies to track and to locate 

Across the aviation, rail, and maritime transport modes, tracking and locating technologies offer ways to improve people’s chances of avoiding or surviving an accident or incident and ensuring they can be found. Transport Accident Investigation Commission inquiries in all three modes have suggested opportunities exist for New Zealanders to get greater benefit from the life-saving technologies available to them. We encourage transport regulators to improve awareness of the significant safety advantages of using the most technologically advanced tracking and locating devices, and to regulate for this in some circumstances.


Robinson helicopters: mast bumping accidents in NZ 

Mast bumping is contact between an inner part of a main rotor blade or a rotor hub and the main rotor drive shaft. The rotor design of Robinson helicopters means they are susceptible to mast bumping during low-G flight conditions. Low-G conditions can arise in turbulence. Significant areas of New Zealand terrain are mountainous, and they are often exposed to strong wind. Serious mast bumping that occurs in flight usually results in the helicopter breaking up during flight, which is fatal for those on board. For this reason, it is often difficult to determine